“Reverend Ethan Smith was the author of View of the Hebrews… Oliver Cowdery – also a Poultney, Vermont resident – was a member of Ethan’s congregation during this time and before he went to New York to join his cousin (third cousins) Joseph Smith.” (CES Letter)
CES Letter lists 34 parallels between View of the Hebrews and the Book of Mormon, such as Americas being uninhabited before Hebrews arrived. But the differences between these books are very significant. CES Letter clips out the differences that B.H. Roberts listed and only shows his negative assessment.
|False Parallels – Many of the 34 parallels are false when viewed in context. For example, the Book of Mormon never actually claims that the Americas were uninhabited before Hebrews arrived, and in fact gives many indications that there were other civilizations already there. So this parallel is false.
CES Letter claims parallels include Hebrews traveling to the New World, encountering seas, and becoming the origins of the American Indians. But actually, View of the Hebrews tells of migrants coming over the Bering Strait on dry land, not over seas. If Joseph Smith had copied the View of the Hebrews, then it would actually undercut CES Letter‘s DNA argument against the Book of Mormon.
CES Letter claims parallels include Hebrew as the origin of the Indian language. This is false.
CES Letter claims parallels include “Quetzalcoatl, the white bearded ‘Mexican Messiah.'” False. View of the Hebrews actually says Quetzalcoatl was Moses, not Jesus. The only major parallel is a Hebrew origin of American Indians, and View of the Hebrews points out many other evidences for this claim which the Book of Mormon doesn’t touch. Why would Joseph Smith take a few evidences from View of the Hebrews and ignore a bunch of others?
Many of the parallel claims are mundane to the point of not worth considering. “Scattering of Israel.” “Pride denounced.” Gee, two religious books just happen to denounce pride and talk about Israel? Shocking!
|The reason why some loose parallels exist is because View of the Hebrews recognized that American Indians had something to do with the Hebrews, and this is something the Book of Mormon explains in detail. “Extensive military fortifications” and “idolatry” are natural observations that many people made about the Native Americans, and multiple explorers pointed out the Natives’ parallels to Hebrews.
See also: View of the Hebrews: An Unparallel
CES Letter Logical Fallacies
|Falsehood||CES Letter incorrectly lists Sharon, Vermont as the location of the 1830 Book of Mormon. This is false. Joseph Smith was born in Vermont, but the Book of Mormon was first published in Palmyra New York, a good distance away.
Many of these parallels are just false. The Messiah did not visit the Americas in View of the Hebrews. Quetzalcoatl was not the Messiah in that book.
The CES Letter claim that B.H. Robert’s research into the parallels between the books was “private,” “meant only for the eyes of the First Presidency,” and “never intended to be available to the public” is totally false.
|Cherry-picking||CES Letter cherry-picks a handful of very loose parallels and arranges them on a chart to suggest very specific coincidences. One after another, each “parallel” is skewed and twisted. Here is the first part of the chart:
Both books had first editions? Unbelievable, wow. I find that shocking.
Next parallel, publication location in Vermont? As we already discussed, that is a lie.
Next parallel, the destruction of Jerusalem? View of the Hebrews talks about the “destruction of Israel by Romans,” and the Book of Mormon talks about the destruction by Assyria many years earlier. Totally different contexts.
Next parallel, the scattering of Israel? The only mention of “scattering” in View of the Hebrews is the “scattering into different tribes” of Indians on the American continent from a single source “from the north”, the Bering Strait, which the Book of Mormon does not claim.
Anyone can cherry-pick a few idiosyncrasies that were common 200 years ago and draw a conspiracy theory relationship between the two random books. In a study, Jeff Lindsay found many striking parallels between the book Leaves of Grass and the Book of Mormon. Only problem? The Book of Mormon was published 20 years earlier.
|Confirmation Bias||The “parallels” ignore wildly different contexts between the two books. Most similarities are because both happen to reference the bible and Native Americans together.|
|Guilt By Association||Oliver Cowdery was a small child when he lived in Ethan Smith’s (author of View of the Hebrews) home town. There is no evidence Joseph Smith had anything to do with Ethan Smith’s book. CES Letter implies Joseph Smith may have come across the book because he lived kinda close and there are kinda some parallels. CES Letter arranges the “parallels” to deceptively invent a relationship.
CES Letter stresses alleged parallels having to do with racism: “A unity of race,” “two classes, civilized and barbarous,” “Barbarous exterminate the civilized.” This isn’t really how either book frames things. CES Letter frames it this way to incriminate the Book of Mormon as racist.
Fake Science – In previous arguments, CES Letter demanded that Mormons validate every single thing mentioned in the Book of Mormon with plentiful physical evidence, or our narrative must be false. But now, CES Letter shifts the goalposts and cherry-picks a few loose parallels to some other book that happens to mention Hebrew influences on the Native American. Why shouldn’t CES Letter have to validate every single comparison, if that narrative is true? Wouldn’t that be scientific?
One of the Book of Mormon’s strengths is its consistent originality of themes, stories, theology, and geography. By constraining the context of the argument, swinging back and forth between too much contradiction to too little contradiction, CES Letter makes this clownish argument sound almost reasonable, almost scientific.
CES Letter thus begins to set a frame for how Joseph Smith produced the Book of Mormon, which by all appearances is a miracle. How did a 14 year old boy come up with such imaginative themes? Easy. He stole it. CES Letter cherry-picks a few bits of evidence and frames it in a way that almost sounds plausible, by ignoring tons of inconvenient facts to support their wild and complicated narrative. They build a narrative how Joseph Smith created the Book of Mormon as an imaginative work of fiction, like the Captain Kidd dime novels which they incorrectly claim Joseph Smith read as a kid.
Logically, shouldn’t this be an argument in support of the Book of Mormon? Think about it. If the Hebrews were really an influence that migrated into ancient America, shouldn’t someone else besides the Mormons noticed the similarities? Well it turns out they did. Many people did, especially early Spanish explorers, but for some reason we don’t hear about it today.
Contradiction Strategy – Like before, CES Letter uses a member of the Mormon church to attack the church. The attack is always more powerful when it comes from a member, which is why anti-Mormons so often pretend to be faithful latter day saints and sow dissension inside the church. B.H. Roberts, no less! This appeals subtly to the bandwagon fallacy, where we get the impression that all the smart people in the church are changing their minds about its truthfulness. We think, “Even the leaders on my side are pointing out the contradictions! I must really have it wrong.” This tactic also insulates the anti-Mormons from counter-attacks from faithful Mormons, because it is not them saying these things, why, it is the Mormon experts admitting it. B. H. Roberts!
The human mind is trained to find patterns and dissimilarities. It is easy–lazy really–to cherry-pick a few vague similarities between two random books, dress up the language to sound more similar, and build a narrative that one book derived from the other. This is the same argument that Leftists use against the bible. They say it was ripped off Babylonian, Sumerian, and Egyptian legends. The human brain is trained to look for discrepancies and patterns, so this trick is common. Pareidolia is why people see the Virgin Mary in breakfast cereal and figures on Mars. It is confirmation bias.
When it comes to history, there is so much we don’t know and will never know. All we have are some fragments of bones in the ground and some texts that claim to be ancient. Fools jump to conclusions. Followers of Satan are easily tricked when it comes to pareidolia and history, because they are lazy and do not care to use critical thought. If there is vague evidence for something but we mostly don’t know what really happened because it is ancient history, followers of Satan will jump to lazy conclusions, whatever narrative is hyped on the History Channel and dressed up in emotional language.
What does CES Letter believe in? What tenant of faith do hold that we can verify or discredit with these kinds of comparisons? Global warming? Human evolution? Give us something! Why don’t anti-Mormons discuss their alternative belief to the beliefs of the Book of Mormon and bible, and talk about physical evidences? Instead, they nit-pick and tear down an entire belief system with unscientific appeals to fake science.
This Marxist propaganda technique is especially insidious as it defines Mormons in a constrained and unfair frame, and it rallies non-Mormons or anybody who was sitting on the fence in solidarity against Mormons and their beliefs.